Everyone can do important work to conserve and keep our environment healthy, which keeps us healthy too. In this issue we’ll show you some important people who have made a big difference for the environment. We hope you enjoy and learn something new!
Dr.Wangari Maathai was born in Kenya in April 1940 and passed away in September 2011. She was an educator, voice for women’s rights, activist and environmentalist who greatly influenced her home country’s community and environment. Dr. Maathai was the first African woman to receive a Nobel Peace Prize. She was awarded this honor in 2004 for her contributions to “sustainable development, democracy and peace.”
In 1977 Dr. Maathai started the Green Belt Movement to counteract deforestation that was threatening subsistence agriculture. The campaign encouraged women to plant trees in their communities, helping to reduce poverty, protect the environment, and support women. This movement is attributed to the planting of over 30 million trees!
Dr. Wangari Maathai shattered the “expected” roles of women in society and paved the way for many generations to come. She was only one person. To a world of 7 billion people, she may have seemed small. But she used her voice to fight for environmental protection and women’s rights, and accomplished so much for her community and environment.
Dr.Maathai often spoke about the story of the Hummingbird. She emphasized that while smaller than other animals, if it did what it could, it would make change. She used this to explain that although one person may be small compared to the whole, they can truly make a difference.
Majora Carter was born and raised in the South Bronx area of New York City. After university she didn’t picture herself going back home but ended up moving doing so after graduation. This gave her the opportunity to stumble upon an abandoned lot which had turned into a garbage dump and junkyard. This lot was riverfront property along the Bronx River, and Majora envisioned a brighter future for it and her neighborhood.
Her passion for addressing the many environmental issues that her community faced prompted her to found Sustainable South Bronx, a nonprofit for urban development, education, and environmental justice. Through Sustainable South Bronx, she was able to raise money to turn that abandoned lot into Hunts Point Riverside Park which is part of the South Bronx Greenway! She continued to work towards expanding parkways in her neighborhood and creating green infrastructure projects like cool and green roofs which help with stormwater and reflect sunlight to reduce the heat of buildings.
The creation of parkways and green jobs like brownfield remediation and urban forestry has increased the quality of life and improved the environment for South Bronx residents. Majora has encouraged and empowered others to work hard and see the good they can do for themselves and the world.
You Can Make A Difference Too
Dr. Maathai and Majora Carter were each individuals who saw a need in their communities and worked hard to meet that need. They encouraged others to better themselves and their environment and made important changes, such as green spaces, for people to enjoy. YOU can follow in their footsteps! No matter how old you are or what you look like, you can make a difference for people and the environment.
The first step is simply learning as much as you can about the world and your community, then spreading that knowledge to others! You can lead by example to help encourage your neighbors and friends to make a positive difference too. Earth Force is a great program for teachers and educators to help students learn about the environment and how they can use what they learn to solve problems in their communities. You can learn more about them by clicking here. We've also included some helpful videos from the Forest Service and Outdoor Afro. Watch them by clicking the buttons below.
At RiverLink, we want everyone to feel they have a place to explore, learn, and teach others about the environment. We believe strongly that racial justice is environmental justice and hold this principle in our events, lessons, and service. We continue to strive to make the environmental field inclusive for all people of different backgrounds, races, and experiences.
Join us for another virtual creek tour, this time of Smith Mill Creek! It runs through West Asheville and faces many threats to its health. RiverLink is working hard to revitalize this important waterway in our watershed.
Staying connected to the river and each other.
We are thinking of you all in these uncertain times and hope you are staying healthy and safe! Thanks to your generous support we are able to continue our Education,Water Quality and Land Conservation programs, but we couldn't do it without you!